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A quick-and-dirty guide to Tucson cinema

By Celeste Meiffren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
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Not that anyone can tell by looking at it, but Tucson is actually a diamond in the rough when it comes to whetting the proverbial whistles of film fans in Arizona. It is the home of three movie theaters that play independent films, a drive-in theater, a theater inside of the student union and theaters inside almost every mall, as well as an independent video rental store that has almost every single movie ever made. Tucson also hosts several film festivals, including the Arizona International Film Festival. It is quite an impressive resume for a town this size.

Film connoisseurs should know of several places to go to fulfill their entertainment needs. The first is Century 20 El Con Theaters. This theater is located inside of the admittedly unimpressive El Con Mall, 3601 E. Broadway Blvd. The great thing about El Con, however, is that it has introduced independent films to its lineup with "Cine-Arts," a subset of the El Con moviegoing experience, which basically entails shorter lines and access to movies that would usually not make a stop in Tucson.

The second must-have for fans of film is a membership to Casa Video, located at 2905 E. Speedway Blvd. Casa Video is the No. 1 video-rental spot in Tucson. Their selection leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. It is not an exaggeration to say that the store puts Blockbuster to shame.

Another great spot in Tucson is Catalina Cinemas, located at 2320 N. Grant Road. This is the closest movie theater to campus, and it often shows independent movies and - sporadically - midnight movies.

The movie theaters best suited for the mainstream movie-goer are the Century 20 theaters at the El Con and Park Place malls. Park Place Mall, 5870 E. Broadway, boasts one of the most expensive movie theaters in town, but it is one of the only places in Tucson that takes credit and debit cards. So, if plastic is the only option, perhaps Park Place is too.

The Gallagher Theater is located within the Student Union Memorial Center and often shows sneak previews of movies, month-old movies and old classics dirt cheap. So, for people who live on campus and do not have adequate transportation, the Gallagher Theater provides some great options for a Friday night.

In addition to having many regular theaters, Tucson also has a drive-in. Though typically associated with shady teenage boys going on their first date, a drive-in theater can actually be a great alternative to the monotony of weekend movie-going. The DeAnza Drive-In is located at 1401 S. Alvernon Road.

The final film hotspot is The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. There are several reasons why The Loft Cinema is the best place in town. First, it is the only movie theater in town that has a student discount, and one of the only theaters that takes credit and debit cards. Second, it shows fantastic movies and hosts several film showcases, including an animation festival and a celebration of Mexican cinema. Third, in one of the theaters it has set up sofas to sit on. Fourth, it has midnight movies, including a weekly showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." And the final and most important reason that The Loft is superior is that it sells alcohol. Alcohol. Drinking. While watching a movie. Brilliant.

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